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Last Friday evening, as a waxing moon arced low across a clear autumn sky, more than 600 people made what for most would be their final pilgrimage to the Mecca of Tokyo’s contemporary art scene. Alone or in clans — some boisterous, others silent — they crossed the Sumida River, wound their way through Koto Ward’s back streets, then filed into a European-style courtyard, through peeling-paint corridors, and up a narrow stairway to the rooftop of the beloved old Shokuryo Building, a century-old, converted rice warehouse that has played host to some of Tokyo’s premier art spaces.

Among these were Kazuko Koike and Atsuko Koyanagi’s Sagacho Exhibit Space, a wonderfully expansive gallery, which opened almost 20 years ago and closed on New Year’s Eve, 2000; and the Tomio Koyama and Taro Nasu galleries, which are still operating and will relocate next year. The Sagacho galleries played significant roles in developing many of Japan’s current international art superstars.

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